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Prader-Willi Syndrome and the Oxytocin Solution

OxytocinCentral (September 1, 2011). New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, demonstrates that the hormone oxytocin is able to positively affect patients by improving trust, mood, and reducing disruptive behavior.

Prader-Willi syndrome and Autism are two such areas of common disorders where oxytocin is proving effective. Prader-Willi syndrome is a rare genetic disorder which causes a range of complex neurological and developmental problems including cognitive and behavioral difficulties, weight gain, aggression, temper tantrums and social and emotional challenges.

Oxytocin was discovered in 1906 by Sir Henry Dale. It is a peptide that functions as both a hormone and neurotransmitter and has broad influences on social and emotional processing throughout the brain and body. Oxytocin is a peptide of nine amino acids that is produced in the hypothalamus and released into both the brain and bloodstream. Functioning as both a neurotransmitter and hormone, oxytocin’s role throughout the body is widespread. Included is the hypothalamus, amygdala, hippocampus, brainstem, heart, uterus and regions of the spinal cord which regulates the autonomic nervous system, especially the parasympathetic branch.

Professor Tauber from Centre de Référence du Syndrome de Prader-Willi, France, said, “Two days after administration of oxytocin, we noticed that our patients had increased trust, decreased sadness and showed less disruptive behavior. Despite the small size of our trial, a single dose of oxytocin had a significant, late acting, effect on our patients. This is really encouraging news for the continued management of people with Prader-Willi syndrome.”

Providing commentary on the study, Dr. Luis Martinez explains how oxytocin works in the brain of an individual diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome or Autism, “Unlike a healthy brain, when an individual with Prader Willi or Autism sees another human face, their brain does not activate in the same manner your brain might. Instead they perceive the face as an inordinate object or any other object for that matter. Therefore, reading facial cues and signals is voided for many people struggling with these conditions. If your face is angry this individual is not likely to perceive your expression as anger, if he perceives it at all. To you, it may seem as though he doesn’t even see you or acknowledge you, but this is in fact a misperception. By boosting levels of oxytocin with a supplement such as Oxytocin Factor, we are able to shift that problem, causing the challenged brain to respond to faces in a more normal way.”

Martinez continues, “This research and others like it are very promising and we can only hope that these types of studies continue.”

Maithé Tauber, Carine Mantoulan, Pierre Copet, Joseba Jauregui, Genevieve Demeer, Gwenaëlle Diene, Bernadette Rogé, Virginie Laurier, Virginie Ehlinger, Catherine Arnaud, Catherine Molinas, Denise Thuilleaux. Oxytocin may be useful to increase trust in others and decrease disruptive behaviours in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome: a randomised placebo-controlled trial in 24 patients. Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, 2011; 6: 47 DOI:10.1186/1750-1172-6-47

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